11 years in California

Today marks our 11th year since moving to California. We arrived on the auspicious date of 03/03/03.



We had driven over from Sanibel Island, Florida where we had been living.   Little Harold, our parrot does not like his travel cage so after days of being in the car, he was very happy to not have to hold on tight all the time, and be able to sit on top of his travel cage, instead of inside.  But sadly, his big cage wasn't there yet - as it had yet to arrive with all our furniture.


That first night, we planned on sleeping on the window seats.  However, as soon as we arrived, one of our neighbors called round and offered that we stay with them the night. They had never met us before, didn't know anything about us, yet still offered us their home. We knew right there and then that we were going to enjoy our home in Glen Ellen.  We actually ended up on the window seats as I'd had it in mind as part of our little adventure and it meant we would also be there with Harold!


11 years on and we still love the place.  It was just a few months later that we named it Birdland for all the birds that visit and live here with us.   The photos here are just a snapshot of our Birdland this morning - wonderful hooded mergansers in the pond.

……...and not forgetting Harold who is very chatty today.  Probably still happy to be out of his travel cage!!!



Yeah for Glen Ellen and Calfornia and all the birds at Birdland!

Comments

We train them young!



We had our youngest ever member of the harvest team for our merlot grape harvest this year.  Talk about training them young.  Little Evelina definitely deserved her wages! She's just 20 months old.

She harvested - the low hanging fruit:


But spent most of her time on quality control, sifting through the grapes and making sure they were up to standard.



Let's hope she comes back every year.  She'll end up being a super grape taster - predicting the best vintages, no doubt!  Thanks for all your hard work little E! xx
Comments

Got any grapes?

When Evelina arrived just over a week ago, we learned a new song - which is the cute Youtube at the bottom of this post.  It's all about a duck that asks "got any grapes?".


All week we've been singing "waddle, waddle, waddle", etc - but the song was very apropos yesterday as we were harvesting our one ton of Merlot grapes.  Yes, we definitely did have some grapes.


Craig, Chui and Evelina all helped with the harvest - as did some singing friends of mine (even though they didn't know the "got any grapes?" song) - Carol, Andy and Jeremy.  We picked for about 3 hours - each working in pairs either side of the vines.

All the grapes went in to half ton bins and on a truck John had rented.  They then went off for their custom crush in Sonoma.

It was a lovely morning. It always feels so connecting to the earth and also to friends to work together on the land.

I know you can't wait to hear the duck song, so here it is!:

Comments

Jackson: the baby snow leopard


I met little Jackson yesterday in Glen Ellen.  He is a baby snow leopard born May 22nd this year.  What a gorgeous experience to see, touch, play with and photograph this beautiful animal.


I met Jackson at a Snow Leopard Conservancy event in Glen Ellen.  We've know Dr Rodney Jackson who is the director and founder of the conservancy and his lovely wife, Darla, for several years, through a mutual friend but this is the first time we'd been to one of their events.  Rodney is the leading expert in the world on snow leopards.  A fascinating man.  He works closely with rural herders and farmers who live in areas where wild snow leopards live and whose lives are directly impacted by the leopards when they prey on their livestock. He educates the people on how to protect their livestock and live with the snow leopards, rather than killing them.   I encourage you to take a look at their website for information on where he works and what the conservancy does.  Snow leopard Conservancy


Snow leopard Jackson was named after Rodney - even though its been said that Rodney would have been a better name for the leopard!!  Jackson (junior!) came from Project Survival Cat Haven and is an ambassador for his species.  As Rodney said, its difficult for people to support the conservation of a species if they've never seen one, so he arranged for Project Survival Cat Haven to bring Jackson to meet us.  What a delight.  Those lovely spots, big eyes and huge paws definitely work their way into your heart.


It was a lovely event - nice lunch, talk on what the conservancy does etc and precious time watching a beautiful animal.  Thanks to all who arranged it and were involved.  It was a truly special experience.  I restrained myself to only 86 photos so if you want to see more than I've put here, just let me know!
Comments (3)

Merlot Harvest 2012

A week ago today, we were busy harvesting 22 tons of Merlot grapes! Phew.


The vineyard management crew began at 4am - in the dark with little lights on their heads to find the grapes!  I don't have a light, so that was my excuse to wait until the sun was up!



Harvest day is always one of the best days of the year. It's such a grounding, connect to nature experience to be in the vines all day, reaping the fruit, surrounded by the noises and chatter....and there were ducks on the pond, a great blue heron and deer all watching on.



As well as the vineyard crew - 12 pickers plus two others driving the tractors and loading the fruit etc, we had four friends join us to help with pulling the leaves out of the bins. The 2 ton capacity bins are pulled through the vineyard as the guys throw the grapes in, and we stand on little planks of wood at the side, diving in to get out the leaves.  As a result of having 4 friends with us, I think our fruit is probably the cleanest in terms of no leaves of any harvested in California! We did such a great job.





The "4" also picked some of the left over Godello from the previous week, to sharpen their picking skills.

The harvest was nearly 3 weeks early for us this year.  And the fruit looked and tasted perfect. The right sugar levels, the right acidity - it just all came together.


And we had some lively conversations over the grape bins - and some interesting times, for example when Mike leaned in to the bottom of the bin to get some leaves, but his feet came off and he teeter-tottered on the edge, not being able to get back up! Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera at this stage!


At 10.30am we stopped for a brief break and then were all finished at 1pm, when it was time for a harvest lunch outside, followed by some grape stomping.  Only Jeremy and I were up for stomping - the others had pathetic excuses, I can tell you!!!!  But J and I had fun and I'm sure they were then all envious that they didn't have sticky legs!!!!

First time stomper nerves from Jeremy..."do I really want to do this????"


It has been suggested that we need to use a larger bucket!

Hopefully from the photos you can see what a fun time it was.  Are you ready to sign up to join in next year????
Comments

Everything is tickety-boo

There are lots of things I could put on my list for this week's blog post - the things that made me feel that life is tickety-boo - but one stands out to me.  And that is flowers.


Every day this week, I've been amazed by the beauty of the flowers around me. Those near our front door at just stunning ( I'll show photos of them later in the week).  It's incredible how nature makes all colors go well together!


But the sight that just took my breath away was the one shown in the photos here, of the Kunde vineyard in Glen Ellen, that has planted red and orange poppies between their vines this year. This is the first year they've done it and people were saying that highway patrol may ask them to mow it down soon, as so much traffic is stopping to take in the beauty!

We had heard about these poppies so took the time to go out and see them. A trip to visit the flowers. It was so worthwhile - and joyous.


I definitely felt tickety-boo every time I paused and just took in all the wonderful flowers around me this week.

I hope you found time - or will this week - to appreciate the colors and beauty of nature. It's such a great time of year for flowers.

Comments